You might think being a good leader has more to do with organization skills and drive than basics like good writing. But few – if any – leadership programs fail to mention the role of communications in leadership. In fact, effective communication is one of the most important skills a leader can possess.
Leaders must communicate to motivate, persuade, explain and instruct or assign. That involves both verbal and written communication. Just because written communication might be less formal than it once was – in the form of email and text messages and blog or social media posts instead of full-page letters – does not mean it is less important.
If anything, understanding trends in business writing helps ensure leaders are effective and respectful in their business communication. Here are a few challenges to business writing for leaders and some possible solutions:
Failure to influence and persuade. When writing, you lack some of the tone, gestures and general excitement in your voice. But you can learn how to convey excitement or make a case for your viewpoint with written words. One strategy is to learn how to craft your words and sentences to motivate readers to act.
Dreading grammar and punctuation. These basic writing skills come more easily to some than others. At the minimum, however, you can ask a colleague for help or a critique to learn which grammar mistakes consistently appear in your writing and assess which rules frustrate you the most. Even better, get some training on how to avoid those common mistakes. That way, you can focus more on your message and less on the part of writing you like least.
Feeling your email messages are ineffective. If recipients don't open your email messages, the problem might be your subject lines. They might stop reading before they get to the end if the message is too long. Even worse, readers might misinterpret or miss your point or call to action. Learning email etiquette and best practices, how to write effective subject lines and greetings, and how to compose the message can improve email results.
Forgetting the basics of business writing. Sometimes, all you need is a refresher to stop negative self-talk and jump-start your business creativity. Reviewing basics such as focusing on your audience, choosing effective words and structuring sentences can improve the clarity and effectiveness of your business writing.
Take a look at your business writing and whether problems you have are holding you back from obtaining the job or promotion you crave. Lessen miscommunication with your employees, fellow manager or upper management. Or develop future leaders by helping your entire team become better business writers. Call us at Business Writing That Counts! (425-485-3221) and take a look at our Webinars, including popular online courses about email best practices, grammar, punctuation and persuasive writing.